July 25, 2016

Mostly clear

ELECTION: Hambley, Sawicki to battle for Batchelder’s seat on Ohio House

A longtime Medina County commissioner and a self-employed carpenter want to succeed Ohio House Speaker William G. Batchelder as the representative of the 69th House District.

Batchelder, 70, of Medina, can’t run for re-election because of term limits.

Chris Sawicki, 34, of Medina, is challenging county Commissioner Stephen D. Hambley, 59, of Brunswick, in the Republican primary on Tuesday.

Steve Hambley

Steve Hambley

Chris Sawicki

Chris Sawicki

Both Sawicki and Hambley have ties to Batchelder and both say he’s a big part of the reason they entered politics.

For many years, Sawicki lived across the street from Batchelder’s father, who, like his son, was an attorney.

“I spent many Sundays talking politics with him and he motivated me to get involved,” Sawicki said.

Hambley has been a supporter of Batchelder since the speaker invited him to a Young Republicans convention when Hambley was still in high school.

Batchelder’s father, William Sr., also represented Hambley’s parents when water and sewer disputes were causing problems in Brunswick and Brunswick Hills Township.

“I consider him a mentor and a valued supporter,” Hambley said of Speaker Batchelder. “He gave to my campaign and I’ve received a lot of counsel from him.”

Hambley has been a county commissioner for the past 18 years, serving five years on Brunswick City Council before that. And while he said he plans to build on the successes of Batchelder and Gov. John Kasich, he doesn’t necessarily agree with them on everything and will run on his own record and platform.

“What I will build on are the principles of local government. Too often the state tends to micromanage, especially in education.”

Hambley said he disagrees with heavy-handed state mandates that drive up the cost of education while often compromising quality.

“You have the common-sense initiatives for business that the governor has worked toward; well, I think there should be one for schools, too,” Hambley said. “If you’re doing well and doing excellent, there’s no reason the state should be stepping in with mandates.”

Sawicki agrees. He said he’s heard complaints from parents about Common Core standards in schools that don’t work.

Sawicki and Hambley also stressed their conservative principles.

Sawicki said Medicaid expansion is one area where the state officials have overreached and said state Republicans failed to meet the party’s values.

“The party is supposed to stand for smaller government, less entitlements, less taxes, and something like Medicaid expansion goes against the true party values,” he said. “I’m simply interested in being a representative for the people and standing for conservative values. I’m not going to be elected as a Republican and then pass liberal policies.”

Hambley said that while local governments can be trusted to run efficiently, it’s up to state officials to give them the tools to do it.

“I’m a common-sense conservative,” he said. “I think the state’s job is about providing more options for local governments to be effective.”

Hambley said his career gives voters all they need to know about why he’s the right choice.

“I’ve worked hard all my life to be a good taxpayer, worked my way through college to become a teacher, then got into public service, and continued to work hard for the people to provide a better quality of life and more options and efficient government.”

Sawicki said he wants to see regular people represented more in state government.

“Half the people in Columbus are either career politicians or lawyers, and I’d just like to see more regular people that are more connected to what’s going on in Main Street America.”

Whoever wins the Republican primary will face Democrat Richard Javorek in November, Sawicki’s eighth-grade history teacher.

The 69th House District includes the eastern portion of Medina County, including the cities of Medina and Wadsworth and one of the city of Brunswick’s four wards; the villages of Lodi, Chippewa Lake, Gloria Glens Park, Seville and Westfield Center; and Granger, Guilford, Harrisville, Hinckley, Lafayette, Medina, Montville and Sharon townships and portions of Brunswick Hills and York townships. The rest of the county is in House District 70.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.